Environmental lawyers celebrate key milestone for Canada’s first marine protected area network

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) & səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories/VANCOUVER

West Coast Environmental Law is celebrating the endorsement of the Action Plan for the Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network, located on the north coast of British Columbia.

The MPA Network, the result of a partnership between Indigenous nations in the region and the federal and BC provincial governments, will help protect important ocean ecosystems spanning from Northern Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border. The Network is the first MPA network in Canada, and will be co-governed by Indigenous, federal, and provincial governments.  

“We want to congratulate the Indigenous nations, federal and provincial governments on this significant and ground-breaking milestone. It took years of hard work and relationship-building to get this point, and we are so happy to see a plan in place to protect the unique marine ecosystems of the region,” said staff lawyer Michael Bissonnette.

“We know there is still a lot of work ahead to implement the Action Plan, but this major step forward gives us hope for the future of the coast and all the species and people who rely on it.”

The endorsement of the Action Plan was announced today in Vancouver during the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), where the world’s leading ocean conservation experts are gathered. The Plan calls for the implementation of the MPA Network in three phases, with most of the Network in place by 2030.

The adoption of the Plan comes on the heels of an announcement in December 2022 that the MPA Network would be one of four recipients of federal funding through Project Finance for Permanence, an innovative funding model to support Indigenous-led conservation projects.

“This Action Plan shows what can be accomplished when federal and provincial governments listen and work with Indigenous nations. We hope this MPA Network will help strengthen local communities in the area and the vital ecosystems they depend on,” said staff lawyer Erin Gray.

West Coast Environmental Law looks forward to supporting the implementation of the Northern Shelf Bioregion MPA Network as the process moves forward.


For more information, please contact:

Michael Bissonnette | Staff Lawyer 
604-684-7378 ext. 233, mbissonnette@wcel.org

Erin Gray | Staff Lawyer 
604-684-7378 ext. 234, egray@wcel.org